Nike Pulls ‘Totalitarian’ World Cup Billboards

Nike has scrapped a World Cup soccer billboard campaign running in Paris after an anti-racism group said the ads were “shocking and hurting” people who suffered under fascist or communist regimes.
The campaign, developed by Wieden & Kennedy in France, supported NikePark, a sprawling complex outside Paris where the company has concentrated its World Cup promotional efforts. Nike said it was satisfied with the shop’s work.
With socialist realist style graphics, one ad featured a dictator-like athlete staring into the distance, one foot resting on a ball. The copy: “Youth of the world, football is calling you! Join us.”
Nike agreed to substitute a planned second wave in two weeks with a series of ads featuring stamps carrying images of soccer players in action.
The decision followed a meeting with Le Mouvement Contre le Racisme et Pour l’Amitiƒ Entre les Peuples (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples). “This was a graphic style of totalitarian regimes found in France and Europe during the 1920s to 1950s,” said Mouloud Aounit, president of MRAP. “These posters sent codes that represent these ideologies, the semblance of Aryan purity is shocking.”
Aounit saluted Nike for making the switch: “It was an honorable decision.”
The total budget for the campaign was about $1 million. Nike declined to say how much the changes cost. Nike did not set out to offend, said Agnes Caradec, a representative. At the same time, “campaigns should never be neutral,” she said.

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